Professionals Using Muse – Muse in Practice

Mindfulness In Practice: Exploring Innerspace

With the ever-increasing demand to service patients that suffer from anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and the compounding stressors of everyday life, practitioners find themselves asking:  

“How can I help my patients learn to become more accepting and aware of their experience in the present moment?”

Both mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques have grown in popularity over the past few decades since their inception. Mindfulness has been touted as one of the most cost-effective, patient empowering therapies for a range of conditions centered around the importance of mental health. Setting the stage for positive personal transformation, some view mindfulness as Cognitive Based Therapy (CBT) on steroids.  

Meditation has been extensively validated by leading neuroscientists for improving brain health and being able to literally change the structure of the brain. Furthermore, meditation has been shown to be as effective as antidepressant medication such as SSRIs in treating depression and is one of the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.

A key concept in the approach of mindfulness-oriented therapy is awareness and acceptance first, followed by change.  By empowering patients with the skills they need to become mentally agile, mindfulness helps our patients learn how to lean into the discomfort of their internal experience and gain control over their day-to-day reality — ultimately improving their clinical outcomes and overall quality of life.

Meditating With Muse: Improving Patient Outcomes

Beginning and maintaining a mindfulness practice can be difficult, even for those with the best intentions. For new learners, being able to identify the subtle differences in fluctuating mental states can be challenging — especially in order to begin to actively shift between levels of distraction and focus.

Muse allows patients to experience the benefits of meditation without the uncertainty that can be associated with traditional meditation practice. Additionally, Muse solves the common problem of adherence to practice by making meditation easy.

Meditation Made Easy:

  1. Gamification = engagement + enjoyment
  2. Tracking = accountability + motivation
  3. Real-time feedback = control + attunement

meditation and anxiety, muse,

What The Professionals Are Saying: Muse In Practice

We’ve been fortunate enough to have several health care practitioners integrate Muse into their practice – with amazing results.

Dr. Tom Diamond Ph.D., RCC, BCN, Board Certified in Neurofeedback had the following testimonial: 

“Muse is an excellent first step into both meditation and Neurofeedback. My clients are quickly able to learn Muse’s clear and well-organized program, and they are thrilled to see their scores rise as they gain meditation and relaxation skills. Muse makes self-driven brain change practical and enjoyable for many folks who would otherwise shy away from the difficult startup phase of meditation or the higher cost of traditional neurofeedback.

As a neurofeedback practitioner, the Muse has helped me develop a whole new series of lower cost, entry level sessions that significantly increase my marketing opportunities. And the Muse compliments my other services, motivating clients to grow into higher level services, such as brain map assessments and traditional specialist-driven neurofeedback. I also offer training for practitioners in my Muse-enhanced services.”

Here’s what Michael Decaire, MA, C. Psych., R. Psych., RP. and Dominika Zarzeczny, ND., BSc. have to say about how they have used Muse in practice and how they have seen it impact their patient’s treatment progress:

Meditating With Muse: How Does Muse Help?

Muse is designed to help novices learn to meditate and form the habit of a regular and rewarding practice. By being able to experience real-time feedback on fluctuating mental states, patients are able to progressively recognize the difference in mental chatter and calm focus at a much faster rate.

This paired with the ability track and visualize brainwave patterns, milestones, and rewards allows users to quickly overcome the learning curve that other beginners may struggle with.

Anchors and Attentional Loops

At its core, meditation relies on something known as the attentional loop. The meditator places their attention on an “anchor” — such as the sensation of their breath — to help them gently bring their focus back when their mind begins to wander.

As external distractions arise (ie. noise, motion, changes in temperature, bright lights) or internal distractions (ie. thoughts of the past/future, emotions, pain) eventually, the meditator becomes aware that their mind has wandered, and places their attention back on the anchor, and begins again. Each time a patient goes through the attentional loop, the brain’s ability to be aware of and control its own attention is reinforced and enhanced.

Meditation works without the assistance of a brain-sensing headband, but Muse makes the exercise more efficient by giving the user audio feedback to help them know when their mind has wandered. When the meditator loses focus, and their mind begins to wander, Muse senses the changes in their brain and the soundscape becomes more intense.

The increasing sounds serve as a cue for the user to investigate whether their mind is on task or not. It helps the user achieve meta-attention faster than they would otherwise be able to. That means that during a session with Muse, the user will go through more iterations of the attentional loop in a session thereby strengthening their neural pathways. Furthermore, the results at the end of each session help meditators quantify and understand how well they are doing from session to session.

Think Your Patients Could Benefit From Muse? 

If you’re a practitioner who would like to improve your own personal practice or if you have patients that you think could benefit from a device that can quickly and effectively teach meditation techniques, join our professional’s program HERE.   When you sign-up you’ll have access to 15% off our regular priced Muse headbands with your professional account.

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If you buy 1, 3, or 6 Muses for your practice, you’ll receive 1, 3, or 6 months free of Muse Connect.

1 x Muse = 1 Month Muse Connect FREE (save $109)

 3 x Muses = 3 Month Muse Connect FREE (save $327)

6 x Muses = 6 Month Muse Connect FREE (save $654)

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Coping With Daily Stress: Meet Dan, Liza and Trevor

We’ve all experienced how it feels to go through a stressful time – maybe you’ve changed jobs, moved, or even lost a loved one.  These periods of heightened stress are usually when we are most aware of how it feels to be “stressed” or “overwhelmed”… but what about all the other times? What about all the moments in-between, when we put our heads down and move from day-to-day? What about our everyday waking lives full of deadlines, grocery shopping, meetings, soccer practice, holidays, and birthday parties?  

Coping With Daily Stress

Time magazine speaks to a major reason why North Americans are becoming increasingly more stressed: “Many more of us suffer from stress dysregulation than we did 40 years ago. Mainly through excess cortisol — a key stress hormone — this dysregulation makes the typical stress response too easy to trigger and too hard to turn off. This leaves us feeling highly agitated (even with no reason) and without effective ways to self-regulate and get back to a calmer, more functional state.”

daily stress, mindfulness, meditation
Liza

It can be much more difficult to sense our baseline stress levels when “stress” is essentially synonymous with everyday life. Most of us have become very good at championing the phrase “I’m ok” or “I’m good thanks”— without even a genuine reflection of if that’s how we’re really feeling. We then go on to bury our heads and continue to truck on, without really checking-in on how our mental space is really doing.

One of the ways to become more mindful and less reactive is through regular meditation practice.  Meditation helps us become more aware of our own thoughts, feelings, and reactions to everyday life while also helping us cope with daily stress.

Daily Stress: Meet Dan, Liza, and Trevor

We wanted to introduce you to Dan, Liza, and Trevor — three real-life individuals who use Muse to help them find balance in their day-to-day lives.  They shared their challenges with balancing work and life, being fully present throughout their day, and pursuing important goals, and how Muse has helped them by starting a daily meditation practice.

As Dan mentions “…like most people, I live a busy and constantly interrupted life”.  Muse has helped him get a handle on how to cope with everyday stress:   “…it would help you focus, it would help you de-stress, it would help you become less reactive.  Basically giving strength training to my concentration and my ability to stay focused… and not be distracted by every little thing that comes.”

daily stress, meditation, mindfulness
Dan

Similar to many of us, Trevor also notes that “…all the little things are just flying through your head all the time, and it all adds up to a pretty stressful situation especially if you are trying to balance a whole lot of things at the same time.”

daily stress, mindfulness, meditation
Trevor

Coping With Daily Stress: Meditation

Are you someone who needs a little help cultivating a daily meditation practice? Maybe you’ve tried meditation before but never been able to stick with it consistently?  Muse helps provide real-time feedback as well as trackable results to help you stay engaged, and stay consistent.

Learn more to see how Muse can help make you calmer and more focused HERE.

If you’re a practitioner who would like to improve your own personal practice or if you have patients that you think could benefit from a device that can quickly and effectively teach meditation techniques, join our professional’s program HERE.   When you sign-up you’ll have access to 15% off our regular priced Muse headbands with your professional account.

You’ll also have full access to our Muse Dashboard – where you can:

  • Receive preferred pricing on products
  • Monitor and track patient progress
  • Gain access to our additional learning material and professional resources

5 Ways to Stay in the Present

Somehow we have progressed into a society that thrives on busyness, work, and chores. We cram our schedules full to the point that at the end of the day we are exhausted, grumpy, and totally disconnected from the beauty in our lives. With a life such as this, we end up missing the little moments that matter most.

All of this rushing and stressing leads to more serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. An easy way to remedy this is by remaining present throughout all of our ever-important tasks. This can be difficult at first, but with a bit of practice it will come more easily. Here are five easy ways to stay in the present for a calmer and more meaningful experience in life:

1. Do a Body Scan

 If you’re new to mindfulness, then a body scan will do you wonders. It is a structured exercise that you (yes, you!) can do anywhere and with hardly any guidance at all. Though the exercise is quite simple, it heavily relies on the basic tenets of mindfulness.

You can easily find a guided body scan online, which will help you begin your practice. With a few guided sessions, you will easily be able to do the body scan on your own. Adapt it to your surroundings so that you can use it to bring you back to the present whenever needed.

2. Focus on the Five Senses

 If you get carried away at some point during your day, then pause what you’re doing and focus on the five senses. In about just five minutes, you can bring yourself back to the present moment with an easy exercise of noticing the five senses. Check in with each of the senses, one at a time.

Notice what you feel, whether it’s a breeze against your skin or the tickling of fabric. Pay attention to what you smell; perhaps it’s the pungent odor of your colleague or no odor at all. Assess the taste in your mouth and notice the different notes all around your mouth. Continue this way with each sense, thoroughly inspecting your experience in the moment.

Take a deep breath
Take a deep breath

3. Take a Deep Breath

 A deep breath can immediately calm you down and reduce anxiety. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the body’s relaxation response. It does so by stimulating the vagus nerve, which lowers your natural stress response. Deep, abdominal breathing lowers the heart rate, relaxes the blood vessels, and brings the body back to homeostasis. The best part? You can do it anytime, anywhere.

4. Slow Down

 Most of us rush through our days, zipping past people, through moments, and onto the next-best-thing without noticing so much as the person next to us as we do. If you find yourself rushing through your day, make the effort to slow down for just a few minutes. Take your time eating your lunch or give yourself a full, luxurious five minutes to drink your coffee in peace. By adding little moments like this to your day, you will be more present more of the time.

5. Narrate Your Actions

 If you are really struggling with being present, then try starting small. A good way to do this is by narrating your actions. As you are preparing your meal, for example, quietly narrate each step. Approach your actions with a positive open regard that is free of judgement. Cutting the carrots, after all, doesn’t need a critic!

Mindfulness is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, it can be used all throughout the day in many different ways. Staying present throughout the day is one way to do it. Living mindfully can reduce depression and anxiety, as well as make you a more efficient worker. What’s not to love about that? Give these techniques a try and see how your world opens up.

For more information on Muse please visit: choosemuse.com

What is Neurofeedback and Biofeedback?

Gaining insight into your own brain activity is possible through the process of neurofeedback. A report in Psychology Today considers it useful in self-implementing a desired change akin to a meditative state of mind. Meanwhile, the positive effects of meditation include decreased anxiety and improved mood.

Biofeedback and neurofeedback are related (albeit not identical) processes. Briefly, biofeedback can be compared to a file cabinet (encompassing a range of mind-body control techniques over various physiological processes, including pain sensation awareness). Neurofeedback is one file drawer, and focused specifically on brain wave activity. In turn, this makes neurofeedback important to biofeedback implementation.

People who engage in neurofeedback can respond to real-time EEG information about their brain wave activity in order to produce a desired brain wave shift. From improving mental health to controlling Parkinson’s disease symptoms, neurofeedback has gained increasing numbers of disciples among teaching hospital physicians since its inception around sixty years ago.

Brief History of Neurofeedback

 Beginning in the 1950s, medical researchers began to experiment with patient-controlled methods to decrease epileptic seizures. Decreased seizure activity was linked in numerous studies to calming brain wave activity through self-produced brain wave changes.

Neurofeedback—initially promoted as an aid for epileptic adults—became utilized in the conduction of research on meditation practitioners (in order to better understand the brain wave changes occurring during meditation sessions). The result was an increased understanding of the positive physiological effects of alpha brain waves, and the general health benefits of meditation.

Technological advances in EEG diagnostics has enabled neurofeedback to provide information valuable to enabling people suffering from a range of conditions to increase their alpha wave prevalence (and decrease the typical beta wave level that is characteristic of wakefulness). Consequently, the clinical management of such disparate disorders as childhood ADHD, sleep apnea, brain injuries, and PTSD may all incorporate teaching neurofeedback techniques to afflicted patients in tandem with (or instead of) medication treatments.

Positive Real-Life Impacts of Daily Neurofeedback

Described in an article in the Journal of Neurotherapy as physical therapy for the brain, a daily session of neurofeedback can produce positive brain wave changes that can improve mental and physical functioning. Both meditation and neurofeedback—through decreasing beta wave activity—increase cognitive functioning in areas such as concentration and problem-solving.

Muse: the brain sensing headband
Muse: the brain sensing headband

Research findings published in 2016 in Clinical Neurophysiology demonstrated this type of cognitive improvement even in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Who Can Benefit from Neurofeedback?

Healthy children and adults—as well as those with specific neurological disorders—can benefit from neurofeedback sessions. In particular, improvement has been shown in the following three brain-controlled areas in both healthy people and those with diagnosed neurological disorders:

  • Executive function (e.g., decision-making);
  • Mood;
  • Attention

There were 17,672 military personnel diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in 2016 alone, according to the US Defense Department’s Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Meanwhile, the website of the American Stroke Association states that around 795,000 people have a stroke every year.

Insomnia, anxiety, and depression are all common in TBI- and stroke-afflicted individuals, and the International Brain Injury Association, therefore, recommends utilizing neurofeedback in treating TBI patients.

How Neurofeedback from Muse Can Help

Meditating while wearing the Muse headband (connected to a free app on a mobile device) can enable a user to view their brain wave patterns after a session of focused attention meditation.

Data feedback provided by Muse after a session
Data feedback provided by Muse after a session

During their session, and by focusing on their breath, a fundamental aspect of focused attention meditation, they can listen to subtle guiding sound cues to reach the desired focused brainwave response. This helps strengthen the user’s ability to reach this state during everyday events and, in turn, deter mind wandering or negative thoughts as well as improve quality of life.

Muse detects a full range of brainwave activity. Brainwaves are typically broken up into five bands, which Muse is capable of detecting. Brainwave bands: Gamma: Hyper brain activity, great for learning Beta: Actively thinking or problem-solving Alpha: Relaxed and calm Theta: Sleep, deep relaxation, and visualization Delta: Deeply asleep/not dreaming. All of these bands are used in making the analysis that Muse provides at the end of every session.

> Want more information on what Muse can do for you? LEARN MORE 

> Are you a healthcare professional interested in learning how Muse can help your patients quickly and easily enjoy the benefits of meditation? Learn more HERE on our Muse Professional’s program. 

Common Meditation Myths and Misconceptions

If you believe that meditating requires prolonged sitting in a cross-legged position, you are not alone. This perception is held by most people in the US, and was revealed to be a barrier to commencing meditation in findings published in Nursing Research. In fact, only 8% of Americans engage in a meditation practice, per the National Institutes of Health. Meditation myths and misconceptions inhibit choosing to undertake a meditation (or mindfulness) practice. That’s truly sad. Some common meditation myths and misconceptions are described below.

Myth Number 1 – Meditation Requires Maintaining One Physical Position

Not only is it unnecessary to sit for an extended period in one position, walking or exercising while meditating is perfectly fine. The aim of meditation (and mindfulness) is to relax the mind and clear it of thoughts. Whether the meditating individual focuses attention on “Om” (a common mantra in Hindu-based meditation) or a specific visual point in the room, the normal pattern of thinking is changed during the meditation session.

Alpha brain waves are increased during meditation (as opposed to the beta waves that predominate during thinking), and an article in 2015 in Psychology Today described alpha waves as the ones most associated with increasing creativity. For people prone to leg or foot cramps when sitting still, meditating while walking or riding an exercise bicycle can be just as beneficial in producing increased alpha wave activity.

Myth Number 2 – Meditation Requires Periodic Retreat Attendance

There are numerous Zen meditation centers throughout the US, and a weekend retreat is often undertaken by its practitioners. However, this is not necessary—whether practicing Zen meditation or any other form.

yoga meditation
Photo by Kristopher Allison on Unsplash

Unless you are interested in becoming an instructor of a specific meditation practice, scheduling a daily time for meditation will reap health benefits, and attending a retreat is not needed to produce these benefits.

The workplace is well-recognized as a huge source of daily stress. According to The American Institute of Stress, 29% of all workers surveyed in the US responded that they felt “quite a bit or extremely stressed at work”. Meanwhile, mental stress has been well-linked to a negative overall health  impact (such as decreased immunity to infections). For this reason, incorporating a daily meditation practice into the work-a-day lifestyle is a great idea.

Myth Number 3 – Meditation is Religious

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is just one meditation form that is based in Hinduism, but many other forms are also rooted in the Hindu tradition. This is because early Hinduism embraced meditation as an aspect of religious practice.

monks meditation
Photo by Iván Tejero on Unsplash

However, meditation itself is not a religion. Instead, it is a way of calming the mind in tandem with assuming a physical position that fosters this calmness.

As discussed in Frontiers in Psychiatry, various scientists in the 1970s measured research subjects’ alpha wave production during a TM meditation session (versus during a normal brain state), and concluded that TM fostered increased alpha wave production.